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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Memes on markers

What might seem a like a simple tool, the instrument used to mark a pattern onto a quilt, is as diverse as the people who use them. The quilt marker can spark lots of conversion and some debate.

I must admit I have tried almost every popular type of marker for sale. Everyone has a favorite and there isn’t a correct, better, or even more effective one out there. It comes down to one important fact: If it works for you, it’s the right choice!

Here’s my two cents on the topic:

Chalk Pencils:


Starting off with the most popular, the General’s pencil and “Quilter’s Choice” from Roxanne.  I have to admit, I have bad eyesight and tend to mark my quilt with a heavier line. This one fact has skewed my opinion of these pencils.  I really (REALLY) don’t like these at all. I have had numerous problems with the pencil mark remaining on my quilt after repeated washings. I have read every home remedy and tried them all. I tried the Aqua Eraser from Sewline as well, and wasn’t happy with the results. Yes, I know the marks will come out over time, but frankly I’m not thrilled with that resolution. 

Mechanical Pencils:


To me, these are a better option when considering a pencil.  The “lead” is chalk and in theory washes out very easily. I will say it does wash out, but again I an not happy with the tiny residual marks, initially. I know, I’m picky!

Erasable Markers:


 The choice that most will frown upon but the ones I love!  To each his own as they say. There are a few things that you have to watch out for when using erasable markers. NEVER expose the marked quilt top to an iron or even the sun. The ink will set and, in the end, a very upset quilter will be standing at the washer screaming! I do like the fact that the mark is completely erased when water is applied. I have heard the nightmare stories where the ink migrates to the batting. I can see how that can happen. Once water is a applied to erase the mark, the ink will spread. I use a pencil type water brush to get the marks out as I go. Again, this may seem like too much of a bother for most. I like that I get a bold line and can control the “erasing” as I go. To further ensure the marker is removed, I soak the finished quilt in cold plain water and then wash the completed quilt. If there is any migration of the ink to the batting the plain water soak will do the treat to remove it completely.

Advice I will suggest STRONGLY: Always try any of these marking instruments on a scrap piece of fabric from the quilt you are working on. All fabric reacts differently. A simple test will prove invaluable, and give you peace of mind throughout your quilting 


  1. muy buena explicación,muchas gracias.

  2. Thanks for the information. I'm new at hand quilting and really need some hand-holding.

  3. When I use wash away markers I remove the marking as I go...I keep a spray bottle of water handy...spray the finished area to get it very wet....very wet....and then blot with a clean towel. After it is dry I check to see if any marking "came back" if it did I repeat the spray. and as you say a good soak in plain cold water before washing the finished quilt. I have never had a mark not come out.....pencils are a different story!!

  4. I've been using the blue wash away markers since I started quilting back in the dark ages. The marks have always come out for me. I used pencil on a few quilts; on one quilt the marks came out. On the other, marks can still be seen, though they are faint. My hardest problem is marking on dark fabrics like navy blue and black. Maybe it's my 55 year old eyeballs, I don't know, but even the white wash away markers are hard for me to see. I will use a chalk pencil, but if I do I have to mark as I go. It's not always easy to pre-mark an entire large quilt, as by the time you get to the first roll of the frame, the lines are almost faded out.

  5. @ Caron. I quilt using a hoop and mark as I go. I find that the Marvy violet marker can be seen on darker colors. They will fade quickly, so you'll have to mark as you go. Marvy markers are difficult to find for some reason. I buy them through the online shop @ "Quilt in a Day". My eyeballs are very close in age to yours.

  6. @Caron on dark fabrics I use a "Clover Water Soluble Marker Fine Point" (makes it easier to google), that is removed with steam (!). My Broken Star, who is now in the frame for 1 year (I work to much) has the markings on with the clover marker, and it still is on and is easily steamed out.

  7. What a hot topic Glenn, if only the perfect marker existed. I had a problem with the fine blue washout marker which left a grey line after fading but never from the ordainary thicker one. The key is to thouroughly soak and wash I think. As you say, testing is crucial.

  8. I have heard that the white marker that you iron off doesn't always come off - I personally have not tried it but heard from others that have used it. I will stick to the chalk, tape and blue marker :)

  9. It's always nice when somebody else does the trial and error for you when it comes to quilt markers. Very informative, thank you!


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